Yup, Gilda Radner, one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, grew up in Michigan...Detroit, to be exact.

The family lived on Wildemere Avenue in the University District, just down from the Detroit Golf Club. A very good neighborhood, and the Radners lived well.

Her interest in acting was heightened by trips to the stage shows and musicals – not just locally in the Detroit area, but her father would also take her to New York City to see plays.

Gilda was overweight in her early years and was diagnosed as having an eating disorder...when she was ten, her mother encouraged her to take diet pills. She struggled to stay thin for the rest of her life.

Gilda went to private school at the exclusive University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods, eighteen miles away from their home. After graduation she attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she studied theater.

Before she had a chance to graduate, she quit and split to Toronto with her boyfriend, where she debuted onstage in the musical Godspell in 1972. Also while in Toronto, she joined the cast of “Second City”; then she moved to New York in 1974 and became a cast member of The National Lampoon Radio Hour along with Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and John Belushi.

The following year she became the very first person to be cast as a regular on the new program “NBC's Saturday Night” which was soon re-named Saturday Night Live. That started the ball rolling to starring roles in films, standup shows, videos, specials...and a marriage to actor Gene Wilder.

All from a girl who began life as a chubby pre-teen from Michigan. Gilda Radner passed away from cancer on May 20, 1989, at the age of 42.


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